Hamilton Runs Well At Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Put this one in the hard-to-take category for Bobby Hamilton and the No. 55 Andy Petree Racing Chevy team.

Hamilton had one of his best runs of the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season going, and it appeared as if he would challenge for the victory in Sunday’s Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

But Hamilton fell out of the Top 10 after a four-tire stop with 60 laps to go, and then a late-race accident relegated Hamilton to a 27th-place finish.

Hamilton started the 500-lap event from the second position and took the lead from pole winner Jeff Gordon on Lap 2. He maintained his position in the Top 10 throughout the majority of the event.

He eventually took the lead again when he passed Rusty Wallace for the point on Lap 387, and proceeded to lead the next 21 circuits around the .0526-mile oval.

A caution brought out by an accident involving Ricky Craven and Jimmy Spencer on Lap 406 saw Hamilton duck into the pits. He came out in second place, but immediately after the restart, he took the point once again and led until Lap 432, when Tony Stewart got past him.

It was then that Hamilton took four tires during a pit stop - while several others took two - and he found himself having to battle through a strong pack of cars. On Lap 499, he spun out in Turn 4, and he wound up finishing two laps down to the leaders.

Bobby Labonte earned his first victory of the 2002 season, leading the final 15 laps. Matt Kenseth was second, followed by Tony Stewart, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch.

The Winston Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway next weekend for the Aaron’s 499, of which Hamilton is the defending champion.

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2002

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